Parliament. Arua Municipality MP Kassiano Wadri, who was sworn-in yesterday, has admitted possessing a pistol on the day of his arrest in Arua, but said he acquired the licenced firearm legally.
In a yet-to-be-published interview with this newspaper, Mr Wadri, who won the hotly contested by-election while in incarceration, said State plans to charge him with terrorism collapsed following proof that he possessed the gun legally.
The lawmaker said when marauding security operatives broke his hotel door and burst into the bathroom, he promptly volunteered information that he was armed and turned the pistol over to the then Arua District Police Commander, Mr Abbas Ssenyonjo.
The DPC was moved to Masaka the day after the mayhem in which Yasin Kawuma was shot dead, six took bullet wounds and up to 36 people, including Mr Wadri, were rounded up in a joint brutal army-police crackdown.
“When they [security operatives] came and told us to march, I was the first person to tell them that I was armed and I withdrew my pistol and gave it to them. When I told them that I am armed, one policeman came and asked how I had got a gun,” he said.
“I told them that I have owned my pistol for the past 20 years. The computer number of my gun is in [CIID] Kibuli [headquarter records] and I licence my gun every January at Arua Police Station.”
Mr Wadri, and his co-accused, now famously called the Arua33, were transferred to Gulu and charged with treason. The High Court in Gulu freed all of them on bail on Monday. They return to Gulu today for mention of their case.
Many of the suspects, according to Mr Wadri, were indiscriminately beaten during arrest while those picked up by Special Forces Command were particularly brutalised.
The operation has left two MPs; Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, (Kyadondo East, Ind) and Mr Francis Zaake (Mityana Municipality, DP) hospitalised while others, such as Night Asara and Shaban Atiku limp on crutches.
Police and State House said the accused pelted President Museveni’s motorcade as it snaked out of Arua Town and in the process shattered hind windscreen of the head of state’s luggage vehicle.
Mr Museveni was in Arua to drum up last-minute support for the ruling NRM party candidate Nusura Tiperu who emerged second in the by-election.
Officials say the alleged attack happened on Ediofe Road.
The SFC reportedly led the President to board his helicopter in Pokea, outside Arua Town, and returned an hour later to the town centre where they, together with police, fired bullets and allegedly indiscriminately beat up Opposition supporters they sight on.
\Mr Wadri in yesterday’s interview said he believed security forces turned vicious because his record crowd of supporters dwarfed the “children and trees” that the President Museveni had addressed a while earlier Arua Hill grounds.
In back-to-back missives on the Arua by-election chaos and continuing aftereffect, Mr Museveni blamed NRM’s loss on the Opposition that he accused of rigging the vote by ferrying voters from adjacent constituencies and intimidating particularly women voters.
Less than 70 per cent of the registered 65,000 voters turned out to cast the ballot on August 15.
The President also raised the possibility that Wadri’s victory could be challenged in court.
Mr Wadri, who was on Tuesday charged with treason alongside 32 opposition supporters, said he will challenge the condition that barred him from travelling to Arua for three months as part of the stringent bail conditions.
He said: “I am the representative of the people of Arua Municipality. In order to exercise the elective role, you must be in-charge of the electorate and issues on the ground and be seen to air the concerns of the electorate.”
By Daily Monitor